Heliyon, Volume 9, September 2023,
The objective of this longitudinal study was to analyze changes in physical activity, sedentary time, sleep, anxiety, mood, and perceived health as a result of COVID-19 pandemic in a cohort of Spanish university students, both during the home confinement and one year after. Additionally, we analyzed the associations between physical activity, sedentary time, and other measured parameters. Data were collected through two online questionnaires that included the International Physical Activity Questionnaire-Short Form, the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, and self-reported anxiety, mood, and perceived health levels before, during and one year after home confinement. Participants reported decreased physical activity, increased sedentary time, and deterioration in sleep quality and perceived health during confinement. Most parameters had improved one year later; however, the participants still reported less physical activity, more sedentary time, and deterioration in sleep quality and perceived health compared to before confinement. Men reported greater reduction of physical activity during home confinement than women. In contrast, women reported reduced physical activity one year after confinement, whereas men reported increased activity. Participants reported higher anxiety and worse mood both during and one year post-confinement compared to pre-confinement, with women reporting higher levels of anxiety than men. Sports science students were closer to regaining pre-pandemic levels of physical activity one year post-confinement than students in other disciplines. Sleep, anxiety, and mood were worse among students with obesity compared to students in other BMI categories. Overall, increased physical activity and decreased sedentary time were associated with less anxiety and better sleep, mood, and perceived health during and one year post-confinement. In conclusion, our results demonstrate that physical activity, sedentary behavior, sleep, anxiety, mood, and perceived health were disrupted one year after home confinement. Higher levels of physical activity and lower sedentary time were associated with preserved sleep and mental health during the pandemic.